Alberto R. Gonzales
Alberto R. Gonzales (Al Gonzales) is White House Counsel to President George W. Bush; in November 2004, Bush nominated Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as U.S. Attorney General.  (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...p/bush_cabinet
Table of contents [showhide]
1 Responses to Gonzales' Nomination
2 Defending the U.S. War on Terror
3 Gonzales, the Press and the Right to Know
4 Energy Ties
5 Texas and the Death Penalty
7 Disinfopedia Resources
8 External Links
Responses to Gonzales' Nomination
In response to Gonzales' attorney general nomination, the conservative group Focus on the Family's vice president for public policy, Tom Minnery, complained that Gonzales did not have "strong pro-life beliefs." Minnery said, "Putting someone like that in such an independent role as a federal judge is a problem for us. But as attorney general, the social issues are not as prominent as the law enforcement issues." For that apparent reason, Focus on the Family supported Gonzales' nomination.  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004Nov10.html
On the other hand, "Many conservatives interpreted the Gonzales appointment as a sign that Bush is preparing to nominate a more ideological figure to the Supreme Court. 'I find it reassuring,' said Jeffrey Bell, a consultant with ties to religious conservatives. 'It shows that Bush is a loyal person, which on a different level assures people who care about the Supreme Court.'"  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...04Nov10_2.html
The New York Times, relying on "Republicans close to the White House," reported that Gonzales' attorney general nomination was "part of a political strategy to bolster Mr. Gonzales's credentials with conservatives and position him for a possible Supreme Court appointment." One source said, "Mr. Gonzales's nomination hearings in Congress would also 'get out of the way' the debate over legal memorandums that Mr. Gonzales supervised as White House counsel." Another benefit of Gonzales' possible Justice Department appointment would allow him to "demonstrate his reliability to conservative leaders" before being nominated to the Supreme Court. In addition, according to the Republican source, "Mr. Bush will be at the apex of his power at the beginning of the second term," and able to nominate a more extreme candidate for the first Supreme Court vacancy. "You do the toughest nominee first," he said. This strategy was said to be "in large part the work of Karl Rove."  (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/12/po...12cabinet.html
A few weeks after Gonzales' nomination was announced, 30 rights groups and members of the Washington, DC-based Leadership Conference on Civil Rights "called on the chairman (Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)) and ranking member (Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.)) of the Senate Judiciary Committee to closely examine [Gonzales'] civil rights record." In a letter, the groups noted Gonzales' role in setting Bush administration policy on the detention and interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and in Iraq, saying, "We believe that there are aspects of Mr. Gonzales' record that raise concerns and that must be closely scrutinized by the Judiciary Committee." The Washington Post noted that two major Latino organizations, the National Council of La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, did not sign the letter.  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004Nov29.html
Defending the U.S. War on Terror
As White House Counsel, "Gonzales provide[d] Bush with the legal grounding for an aggressive assertion of executive authority in disputes with Congress and of government power in the war on terrorism. Known as 'the Judge' because of his brief service as a Bush appointee to the Texas Supreme Court, Gonzales is considered a likely nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, should Bush have the opportunity."  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...g/whoswho.html
In January 2002, Gonzales authored a memo which "said the Geneva Convention that had long governed the treatment of prisoners did not apply to al-Qaida or the war in Afghanistan. The memo called some of the Geneva Convention's provisions 'quaint.' Gonzales also defended the administration's policy - essentially repudiated by the Supreme Court and now being fought out in lower courts - of detaining certain terrorism suspects for extended periods without access to lawyers or courts."  (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...p/bush_cabinet
In August 2002, Gonzales' office helped prepare a memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, "advising that torturing alleged al Qaeda terrorists in captivity abroad 'may be justified' and that international laws against torture 'may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations' conducted in the U.S. war on terrorism. Gonzales held a news briefing to distance himself from the memo after it became public, calling it, in part, 'irrelevant and unnecessary' and 'overbroad.'"  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...04Nov10_2.html
Retired General Jim Cullen of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals "says Gonzales directly contradicted established military and international law," wrote Nat Hentoff. Cullen claims that Gonzales deliberately left top military legal experts out of discussions on the new detention and interrogation policies, because Gonzales realized that "the Judge Advocate Generals Corps would never sanction departures from the Geneva Conventions or engaging in practices that the common man would regard as torture."  (http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0448/hentoff.php
Ralph Neas, president of the People for the American Way, said in response to Gonzales' nomination to Attorney General, "Alberto Gonzales' role in the development of policies that ultimately led to the Abu Ghraib prison scandals in Iraq is deeply troubling."  (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...p/bush_cabinet
Gonzales, the Press and the Right to Know
Joe Strupp of Editor and Publisher wrote, "Reporters and editors shouldn't expect Alberto Gonzales ... to be very responsive to press demands for access, given comments he made to a group of editors just two years ago." In October 2002, Gonzales told the Associated Press Managing Editors conference, "There is a danger for the president's lawyer to be addressing a roomful of editors. ... You have a right to know what is going on in government. But we also believe such rights are not absolute." In the same speech, Gonzales said regarding delayed or ignored Freedom of Information Act requests that it was "permissible under law" for federal agencies to withhold information.  (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/ea..._id=1000717474
On November 15, 2004, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press release a report entitled, "Evaluation of the likely impact of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales on Press Freedoms and the Public's Right to Know (http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/2...5gonzales.html
)." The report notes that, as White House Counsel, "Gonzales has been an active defender of what is best described as a quasi-executive privilege, invoked repeatedly by the Bush administration in attempts to keep government information from public scrutiny. ... The quasi-executive privilege is so named because the privilege's breadth, as defined by the Bush administration, is much greater than what is commonly known by lawyers as the executive privilege."  (http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/2...5gonzales.html
The RCFP report also notes that Gonzales:  (http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/2...5gonzales.html
"Played a key role in keeping presidential records out of the public eye and asked for several extensions to deadlines for turning over papers of past presidents," specifically documents from the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations;
"Argued throughout the summer of 2002 that Vice President Cheney and the records of his energy policy task force should not be subject to open-government laws";
Defended the use of military tribunals for suspected terrorists, writing in a New York Times opinion piece that such tribunals "allow the government to use classified information as evidence without compromising intelligence or military efforts," and "can dispense justice swiftly, close to where our forces may be fighting, without years of pretrial proceedings or post-trial appeals"; and
Was instrumental in "getting [then-Texas Governor] Bush excused from jury duty in 1996 - a move that allowed the governor to avoid having to disclose that he had been arrested for drunken driving in Maine in 1976," a fact kept secret until 2000.
While running for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court, "Enron and Enron's law firm were Gonzales's biggest contributors," including $35,450 in donations in 2000, according to New York Daily News. Energy industry donations to Gonzales during this time totaled $100,000. In May 2000, "Gonzales was author of a state Supreme Court opinion that handed the energy industry one of its biggest Texas legal victories in recent history." After becoming White House Counsel, Gonzales has played a role in keeping details about Vice President Dick Cheney's meetings with his energy task force secret, according to the Center for American Progress.  (http://www.americanprogress.org/site...J8OVF&b=246536
Texas and the Death Penalty
Gonzales "was the second Hispanic to serve on the Texas Supreme Court. Before Bush appointed him to the high court, he served as secretary of state and as the Texas governor's staff general counsel."  (http://www.shelbystar.com/news2000/_disc4/00000b7e.htm
During his stint as Texas general counsel, Gonzales helped prepare memos on 57 death penalty cases for which then-Governor Bush had to consider granting clemency. The Atlantic Monthly found that Gonzales "repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence." He also seemed to discount such mitigating factors as "mental illness or incompetence, childhood physical or sexual abuse, remorse, rehabilitation or racial discrimination in jury selection."  (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/...p?story=581582
Bush subsequently allowed 56 of the 57 people involved to be executed, including Terry Washington, a 33-year-old mentally handicapped man with the communications skills of a seven-year-old.  (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/...p?story=581582
Gonzales received a Bachelor's degree from Rice University and his law degree from Harvard Law School. He served as a law partner in Vinson & Elkins in Houston, Texas. "Judge Gonzales attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force."  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp...¬Found=true
)  (http://www.results.gov/leadership/bio_180.html
White House Staff/Bush
War on terrorism
September 11, 2001
Gonzales memo to Bush on prisoner treatment (http://wid.ap.org/documents/doj/gonzales.pdf
) (PDF file), January 25, 2002.
Summary of White House legal memos and decisions (http://lawofwar.org/Torture_Memos_analysis.htm
) on the "War on Terror," from lawofwar.org
Alberto Gonzales: A Record of Injustice as White House Counsel (http://www.americanprogress.org/site...J8OVF&b=246536
), by the Center for American Progress.
President Nominates Judge Al Gonzales as Next Attorney General (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/relea...0041110-8.html
): White House transcript of Gonzales Attorney General nomination
"Evaluation of the likely impact of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales on Press Freedoms and the Public's Right to Know (http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/2...5gonzales.html
)," The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, November 15, 2004.
Nat Hentoff, "Liberty Beat: Worse than Ashcroft: Bush's new attorney general helped write the Patriot Act and supported torture (http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0448/hentoff.php
)," Village Voice, November 29, 2004.
Darryl Fears, "Rights Groups Urge Scrutiny of Gonzales (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004Nov29.html
)," Washington Post, November 30, 2004.
Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, "Gonzales's Views on the Question of Torture (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6479334/site/newsweek/
)," Newsweek, November 22, 2004.
Elisabeth Bumiller and Neil A. Lewis, "Choice of Gonzales May Blaze a Trail for the High Court (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/12/po...12cabinet.html
)," New York Times, November 12, 2004.
Jennifer Loven, "Bush's Attorney General Nominee Key Player (http://news.findlaw.com/ap_stories/a...003008_07.html
)," Associated Press, November 11, 2004.
Joe Strupp, "APME Comments Suggest Gonzales Won't Be a Press-Friendly A.G. (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/ea..._id=1000717474
)," Editor and Publisher, November 10, 2004.
Andrew Buncombe, "Bush selects evangelical for attorney general post (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/...p?story=581582
)," The Independent, November 11, 2004.
Dan Eggen, "Gonzales Named to Succeed Ashcroft as Attorney General (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...04Nov10_2.html
)," Washington Post, November 11, 2004.
Dan Froomkin, "Deciding What's Salient About Gonzales (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2004Nov11.html
)," Washington Post, November 11, 2004.
White House Biography (http://www.results.gov/leadership/bio_180.html
): Alberto R. Gonzales.
Mike Allen, Counsel to Assertive Presidency (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp...¬Found=true
), Washington Post, May 19, 2003.
Who's Who in the White House (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...g/whoswho.html
), updated February 16, 2004.
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